New Studies On Quality of Care at Health Centers

New research published today in Health Affairs underscores the value of Community Health Centers and their longstanding partnership with Medicaid. Two studies focused on states that opted to expand the public insurance program under the Affordable Care Act and  provide clear links between the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of Medicaid and improved care quality at health centers.

“The first year of Medicaid expansion was associated with increases in insurance coverage and improvements in asthma treatment, BMI screening, pap testing and blood pressure control,” wrote the authors of the study from Brown University [see Becker’s Health Care article].

The study looked at comparative data between states that expanded Medicaid and those which did not and found higher rates of insurance among patients in expansion states by just over 11 percent.  The impact on quality care for patients was also affected.  More patients came to health centers for care in expansion states and were substantially more likely to contribute to their health centers’ revenue (due to having insurance) and more likely able to purchase medications and access specialty care.

Another study in Health Affairs by the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University [See Kaiser Health News article] also uses data to examine Medicaid. In this case, researchers looked at data from 2012 to 2015 to track visits to Community Health Centers.  Again, in states that opted for expansion, health centers experienced more patient visits, lower rates of uninsured patients, and an increase in patients seeking mental health care.

With so much uncertainty about what the future holds for health care, these studies provide solid data showing the value of having both access to health care and coverage.

Both studies are available to Health Affairs subscribers here.

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